He was born in a humble log cabin. He taught himself to read. He lost the first time he ran for public office. He suffered from depression. He lost a son, and his wife never recovered from the loss. He also was the 16th president of the United States, led the country through the Civil War and signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves. When you look at Abraham Lincoln's humble beginnings, would you have thought he would turn out to be one of the most influential men ever to hold the office of president?
I recently attended a workshop by Cecil Murphy that asked the question "who would have thought?" The workshop was about unlikely books that were published and became best sellers. The idea behind it all was that God sometimes uses the most unlikely people to reach others for Him. I've been pondering this idea and started noticing in my Bible study time all the places that God used the unlikely person instead of the obvious one to accomplish His purpose.
We all have moments when we're discouraged and don't think God can use us. Know that it is in those moments that God is most able to use us. When we are broken, God is most able to let His light shine through our lives because we know it isn't anything that we are doing but all that God is doing. Our kids face times of discouragement as well -- times when they feel unloved and unloveable, times when they think they will never accomplish anything. When your kids feel this way, show them some of the stories in the Bible of men and women that God used in amazing ways. Help them to see that God will use all of their gifts, talents and even disappointments as He grows them into the person He wants them to be. Here's a few examples of unlikely people that God used.
- Judah. Judah was one of Joseph's brothers. As a matter of fact, he's the brother that came up with the idea to sell Joseph into slavery. Of Jacob's 12 sons, the logical person to head the branch of the family that would be Jesus' branch would have been Joseph. He was wise, he was godly, he was forgiving and he was strong. Yet, God chose Judah. In Genesis 49:10 Jacob gives his blessing to Judah, and he says "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his." Jesus descended from the line of Judah. Who would have thought?
- Ruth. Ruth was a Moabitess, a sworn enemy of the Israelites. Yet, through her loyalty and courage, she married Boaz and became the grandmother of David and a part of the lineage of Christ. Who would have thought?
- Peter. Peter was a fisherman. He wasn't a speaker. He wasn't a rabbi trained in the scripture. He was simply a Jewish fisherman who answered Jesus' call to "Follow me." Peter was brash, bold and sometimes ridiculously obtuse. He denied Jesus three times. Yet, Peter is the one who recognized Jesus as the son of God. He's the one who stepped out of the boat and walked on the water. Peter is the one that Jesus called "the rock." Peter spent the rest of his life proclaiming the gospel and was killed for his belief. Who would have thought?
- Saul/Paul. Saul was the person who held the coats while Stephen was stoned. He sought out believers and killed them. Having Saul knock on your door was a frightening experience for the early church believers. God changed Saul's name to Paul and rearranged Paul's life. Paul became the biggest champion of the gospel in the early church. He was the world's first missionary. He spent countless years of his life in jail because he preached the gospel and was eventually killed for his belief. Who would have thought?
We all have our own "who would have thought" stories -- people we've met along the paths of our lives who are being used by God in amazing ways, especially considering where they started. It may even be your own life that is a "who would have thought" story. Keep in mind that our kids need to hear these stories. Being a kid is tough sometimes, and kids tend to have a very limited view of the future. If life is upsetting now, it seems to them that it will always be upsetting. Sharing stories with your kids of the way God can use the most unlikely of people helps them see a longer term view of the world. What "who would have thought" story can you share with your kids?